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The Lure Hardcover – February 11, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Blaise and her friends do not think any further than surviving high school-literally. Their low-income neighborhood in Washington, DC is controlled by rival gangs. The only way most teens have a chance at making it is to join one of these crews. Blaise is tough and chooses to undergo a brutal hazing ritual to fight her way into Core 9, but Melissa decides to get in through the "rollins" process-a throw of the dice determines how many guys she will have to have sex with to join. Blaise feels powerful at first and enjoys the extra money membership affords, but becomes desperate to escape as she sees Trek, the group's leader, abusing Melissa; witnesses the needless death of an 11-year-old boy; and gets "promoted" to the role of "lure"-bait to track down enemy gang members. Fairly true to the gritty reality of urban organized crime and violence, the ending, however, wraps up too quickly and perfectly, and readers will have to suspend disbelief to completely accept it. Place this fast-paced novel in collections where realistic urban fiction is popular. For fans of Allison van Diepen's Snitch (S & S, 2007) and Greg Takoudes's When We Wuz Famous (Holt, 2013).—Suanne B. Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Joining the Core 9 gang should offer Blaise protection from the drug deals, guns, and violence in her Washington, D.C., neighborhood, which borders three rival gangs. When she is asked by Core 9’s head gangbanger to dress sexily to lure enemy gang members to revenge beatings, however, she knows she is in danger. Blaise is a fighter with a “gangster sixth sense” for avoiding trouble, but even she is not sure she will make it out of high school alive. Ewing describes gritty and, unfortunately, all-too-realistic scenes in which poverty, fear, and self-preservation make Blaise and her friends take perilous risks, from theft to gang-initiation sex. The author doesn’t make judgments, but rather depicts the characters as products of their environment. The story’s nonstop action becomes an adrenaline rush when Blaise dares to think about a way out of her dead-end neighborhood. Even if she doesn’t make it out, she will go down fighting. An eye-opening, heart-pounding look at survival on the streets. Grades 9-12. --Angela Leeper
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Gritty and raw told through the eyes of Blaise, raised in a neighbourhood where most people are poor and the only answer for most teenagers is to join a gang, in Blaise's case she is being raised by her sick grandmother, money is very tight and so like her childhood friends Satch and Rico she decides to join their gang Core 9.
Initial into the gang is to be beaten for 1 minute straight without fighting back, after successfully completing the beating Blaise feels like part of a family, but life in a gang is not as great as it appeared to be when she was on the outside looking in, but when Trek the leader of Core 9 tells her that she will be their lure (enticing opposing gang members, so that they let their guard down and subsequently get beaten up by Core 9 members) against her better judgement and without really being given a choice she accepts.
But reality comes crashing down when someone she lured comes after her and results in the death of an innocent bystander, that Blaise comes to realise that this may not be the life that she wants after all, getting out is a lot harder than getting in, and when Trek sets Blaise, Satch and Rico up and turns on them it will end fatally for one of them. and will shock the remaining two into realising that they've got to take the chance and get out while they can.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the insight into what it takes to not only join a gang but belong to one as well had me very intrigued and in places shocked that this does actually happen.
A fast-paced, quick read that contemporary fans should devour.
In a nutshell, The Lure is about Blaise, a high school girl, who elects to join Core 9 and once a member, becomes a "lure" for their leader, which means she begins seducing an enemy as a distraction so someone else can hurt the enemy or take him out. She is reluctant to do it and once she does it a few times, she begins to have doubts not only about her actions but those of the people "in charge."
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, from what I know anyway, the events Ewing depicts are accurate and show the gritty, belligerent ways of gangs. Blaise thinks she's gaining a family, loyal friends, security, by joining Core 9 but what she actually gets is paranoia and certain death. Something I think that those unfamiliar with how gangs work may be surprised to learn is the idea that members understand that their death is inevitable and that it will probably happen soon. Several times characters reference how we all die at some point, how they think they'll only last a year, etc. Their concept of self-preservation is very different from most other people and is a difficult pill to swallow. Ewing has written an incredibly compelling and fast-paced novel that certainly made me think and that elicited all kinds of emotions, most notably sadness that this is reality for so many children and teens. Like watching a train wreck, I kept turning the pages to see how things would end up for Blaise and though Ewing leaves it open ended, the reader can certainly infer what probably happens to her.
So while my immediate reading experience was fairly positive, this is not a book I feel I could recommend really to anyone and here's why. The dialogue and voice are inaccurate. The characters, all Latino gang members who have grown up in extreme poverty, speak like white kids who attend posh private schools with a handful of Spanish phrases peppered throughout. Blaise's inner monologue did not have nearly enough urgency for someone truly facing death. So while the events were well done, the people experiencing those events were not. Also, this book is extremely violent. This is to be expected in a book about gangs - there are group beatings, group rape, coercion through violence and sex, drug use, murders - I had some very vivid dreams for two nights while reading. I would under no circumstance suggest this book to any teenager to read for entertainment because 1) it's probably not the best introduction to the topic if they're unaware of it because of the graphic nature and 2) if they are aware of it or live it, why relive it on the page? If this was somehow meant to be a cautionary tale for potential gang members, I doubt it would sway anyone and I'd be shocked if it made it's way into their hands anyway.
I was frankly shocked, because of the content, that this is a young adult book. The violence and graphic situations would be hard for most adults to stomach. That's not to say they couldn't handle it, they certainly could, but there is very little hope in this book and I can't see the overall package being attractive to teens.
If you're interested in the subject matter, I'd recommend checking out some news articles instead. Just Google MS-13, you'll find a lot.
Right down the middle - 2.5/5 - a well-planned, quick-moving plot, but I'm still confused as to who this book would be right for.